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How the Council buys placements in special schools not managed by the Council

Important information for parents and carers about how the Council buys placements in special schools not managed by the Council (non-maintained and independent special schools) referred to as ‘settings’ throughout this letter, for children and young people 0 – 25 years

From February 2016 the Council will be changing the way in which we arrange placements for children and young people in these settings.  This includes day placements, weekly and termly boarder placements and full residential placements.

 We know that change can cause concern and would like parents and carers to know that:

  • There will be no change to placements for children and young people who are already in education; changes will only effect new placements made after 1 February 2016 (including where a child or young person is changing school / college).  
  • Parent and carers and children and young people will continue to have a say in which school or college they would like to attend.  
  • New arrangements will still allow parents and carers, education, social care and health professionals and the Council to ‘tailor make’ support to the individual needs of children and young people.  
  • The changes mean that all settings on the Council’s new framework will offer the same quality of learning and support to children and young people.  Each setting will provide a core offer of service alongside individual support which will meet children and young people’s needs.  
  • The Council will be implementing systems that allow us to monitor the quality of services provided to children and young people and to take parents and carers views into account as part of this process; where things may need improving we will work with schools and colleges to make things better. 

We would like parents and carers to be involved:

  •  We would like parents and carers and children and young people to help us evaluate the settings who will join the Council’s new Framework by telling us what a good setting looks like and will get in touch with you talk to you about this. 

We still need to offer high-quality services to all children, young people and families in Middlesbrough from limited public resources.  This includes a requirement to provide high quality education to children and young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND). 

You may not be aware that the Council is also required by law to buy services in line with the new European Public Contract Regulations which means we can no longer arrange placements in the way we did before. 

We need to do this in the most efficient way possible while ensuring that the needs of children and young people are of the upmost priority.

The Council has been working with the other eleven Councils across the North East, our health colleagues, legal colleagues, SEN Managers and settings to ensure we can continue to do this in a way that ensures high quality services while spending less; this group is called the NE12+ Collaborative.

What will new arrangements look like?

From February 2016 the Council will be using a Framework of Providers to make placements in Department of Education registered, non-maintained and independent special schools and colleges for children and young people 0 – 25 years.

This means that the following process will be followed:

  • A child or young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of SEN will identify their needs and what type of support they will need
  • The Council will ask Providers on our Framework if they can meet the needs of the  child or young person
  • If there are some Framework Providers who say they can meet the needs of the child or young person we will ask parent and carers to work with the SEND team to identify which one will provide the best opportunities for their child   
  • If none of the Framework Providers are able to meet the needs of the child or young person we will look for Providers who are ‘off Framework’
  • Parents and carers may decide to take a Personal Budget by Direct Payment and work directly with a school of their choice

The Council knows that this new process may raise some questions and following discussion with the Chair of the local parents’ forum (Parents4change), we have offered to attend future meetings with our local forum in the next few weeks.

If you would like more information please do not hesitate to contact David Ball on 01642 201828.

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